Monday, April 26, 2010

The California Goldfinch Rush

En route from Oceanside to Catalina we were joined by a small fleet of the American Goldfinch. They rested and hopped around and ate our food, tried to help us with navigation (see photos) and the main sheet, argued with each other over whether we were properly set for wind direction, and generally entertained us. There was a barrel-chested guy we call The Admiral. In one of the photos you see him berating a colleague (no doubt over something nautical.)

And yes, that's my head they're roosting upon. Ah, nature! There is never a dull moment.

(George is giving a gentle nudge. He decided to share.)

(This is so em-bare-asking!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dana Point and Chula Vista (Take me out to the ballgame!)

Pam and Phil Boulding gave us Two Years Before the Mast as a wedding gift. We've read it to each other as we've come down the coast and thrilled at seeing the sites Richard Henry Dana so eloquently described. Though much has changed in the past 170 years, something that hasn't changed much is the cliff line at Dana Point. In Two Years, Dana describes the imposing edifice and how they had to kite stiffened cow hides down from them to the beach. Without a full cargo of 55,000 hides, none of the men on his ship would be headed for home.

Today, Dana Point hosts The Ocean Institute. Any of you with an opportunity to sign your child's class up for the curriculum there, please do so! The OI has a replica of the ship Dana was a hand in (The Pilgrim) and another tall ship (The Spirit of Dana Point) which are classrooms during the week. They teach children about seamanship, the life of a sailor ca. 1835, the history of California and trade along the coast, and about marine life and conservation. The teachers dress in period costume and make it a memorable, exciting learning experience.

George and I joined the OI and took a tour of The Pilgrim. Even got to help out with a few lines, though we never left the dock, and take the docent out for happy hour.

We then joined new friends Andrea and Eric for dinner at their home. Andrea and I met at the Woman's Sailing Convention a few months ago. They have a 26' day sailer and get out frequently - taking on all kinds of weather. This despite busy lives. Eric works with an intriguing software solution geared towards maximizing human learning. Andrea is an artist. We came home with warm memories and a good reading list.

I suppose I should say something about sailing ... On the trip from Catalina to Dana Point I finally found Nereid's sweet spot. If you set her at 60 degrees, you can let her fly. It's exhilarating to set the sails and let her run! I would have kept on going to San Diego if we hadn't already known Dana Point was our destination. (And besides, the military frowns on your setting a course that comes too near their exercises.)

We also sailed the whole distance from Dana Point to Oceanside. It's not that far, but for us to have two whole days of sailing is (unfortunately) worth remarking. May there be many more!

Alas, our trip from Oceanside to San Diego was under power. Light winds and headwinds forced that decision. A light weather sail is on the top of our wish list.

We made it into Chula Vista (south San Diego) just before the current storm hit. We were grateful to be snugly tied dockside. Today we ventured out to try the public transport system. (Chula Vista is where we're likely going to live from June thru November.) It's a dreary hike to the trolley/public transport station, so there's a moped in our future. But, we made it to the ballpark in time for the first pitch (which was delayed due to rain.) So many people in ponchos - you would have thought The Mariners were in town!

The Padres won, and they deserved the win. When I bought the tickets I swear they were at the bottom of the standings for NL West, but tonight they're at the top. So much for rooting for the underdog! It's always good to take in a ballgame. (What lubbers we are!)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

She's Launched!

Around 7pm on Good Friday in the presence of a few salty friends, George christened his handmade wooden dinghy and took her for a row, in the relatively chilly waters of Avalon Harbor.

Four fabulous fellows wheeled the boat from its tiny building grounds towards the waterfront, with an entourage, including chase cart, following at parade pace.

The small party headed for South Beach along the quiet residential street of Clarissa, which seemed to be the perfect route; however, the street ended abruptly, 3 feet above the beach. The dinghy was carefully lowered into the surging swell, George quoted the designer Sam Devlin's traditional launching speech,we all quaffed some Martinelli's and the captain set her afloat.

The milk-white boat with shiny African mahogany trim rows beautifully. She is a little tippy but that may she will handle well in waves. (Next trial.)

What to name her? Our mother ship, Nereid, has a name with dual meaning. First, it's a Greek word for a sea nymph and daughter of Neptune. Second, in our solar system it is the name of a moon orbiting the planet Neptune, and the moon with the most erratic orbit (which suits our sailing style). Following that tradition, we looked up the moons of Neptune on Wikipedia and found: "Galatea (Greek: Γαλάτεια; "she who is milk-white")[1] is a name popularly applied to the statue carved by Pygmalion of Cyprus in Greek mythology. An allusion to Galatea in modern English has become a metaphor for a statue that has come to life." Galatea it is!

Special thanks to: Bob Cranton (whose generous nature provided space), Roger (who received every shipment necessary) and Sam Devlin, who pioneered the stitch-and-glue building methods and designed the boat that George built.